The cost of prescription medications continues to climb with no end in sight. Not surprisingly, one in four people has difficulty affording their prescription medications. Use these four tips to help increase your patients’ medication adherence and to help them reduce out of pocket costs on prescriptions.
1. Initiate the conversation: ask patients about prescription coverage, co-pays and if they can afford their medications.
As a health care provider, your focus has been to prescribe medications that best treat your patient’s illness. There’s no way for you to know which medications are covered on a health plan or how much each drug costs. However, because patients are often hesitant to alert providers that they can’t afford a medication, it’s important for you to ask questions.
2. Prescribe generics or therapeutic alternatives, as appropriate.
Generic medications typically cost 80% less than brand-name drugs. There can even be substantial price differences from one generic to another. Pharmacies automatically switch to generic equivalents when presented with brand-name prescriptions, unless a brand-name is requested. When generic equivalents aren’t available, consider therapeutic alternatives.
3. Encourage mail order.
Most prescription plans offer mail-order options that allow patients to order 90-day supplies for reduced cost. Your patient’s one month prescription may have a $10 copay at the local retail pharmacy, but only a $25 copay for a three month supply at a mail-order pharmacy. Some plans even offer lower tiered generic drugs for free if patient’s get them through mail-order. Delivery directly to a patient’s home most often increases medication adherence, as patients don’t forget about picking up monthly refills.
4. Call on your local Pharmacist, and encourage patients to use them as a resource too.
Pharmacists are great resources for health care providers. They want to partner with you to make medications work for your patients. Call your local Pharmacist for cost saving opportunities for medications such as switching from capsules to tablets or other dosage form, taking two medications separately rather than expensive combination products, or when splitting a higher-strength tablet is more cost effective than taking a lower strength tablet. Suggest to patients that Pharmacists are excellent resources regarding insurance coverage. Many pharmacies also have discount drug cards for expensive brand-name medications.
By ensuring that your patients are adhering to prescribed medications, you’ll be able to help prevent disruptions that can lead to unwanted adverse events. Contact KHP Pharmacist Carrie Schanen with questions about insurance coverage, generics or therapeutic alternatives at CarrieSchanen@KentuckyOneHealth.org.